Automotive Battery Testers and Chargers
When you think about it, car and truck batteries do a lot for your car. From starting in the morning to running accessories throughout the day they are a vital part of any motoring experience. Unlike some other auto parts, the only way to be sure your battery is in top condition is to test it.
How a Battery Works
The basics of automotive batteries haven't changed in a very long time. Usually referred to as lead-acid batteries, they have two metal plates submerged in sulphuric acid. One plate is lead, the other lead dioxide. The acid causes the dioxide plate to release ions that then flow to the lead plate, producing lead sulphate, which produces current. Charging the battery reverses the flow and breaks down the lead sulphate.
The best way to test your battery is with an automotive battery tester. These testers will work on both older batteries and later sealed units and provide an accurate reading of the current state of your battery. Just connect the tester and take a reading, it will tell you how well your battery is holding a charge and whether it needs replacing. Older batteries can test with a hydrometer, which measures the specific gravity of the electrolyte to determine its condition.
Car batteries are very particular about charging requirements. You cannot simply connect them to a high current source and expect them to charge. Each battery needs about ten per cent current applied over time to charge from flat. Good chargers provide the recommended voltage for each battery type. Always monitor your battery while charging and maintain the temperature at no more than 25 degrees C. If the battery reaches 50 degrees C disconnect it immediately.
The most important part of battery maintenance is to not let it go flat. Complete discharge can damage batteries, and then you may be on the hook for car battery replacement. If it does go flat, charge it on a charger, not by driving around. Also, don't disconnect it when you are leaving the car parked, use a maintenance charger instead.